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ft ^ É Agriculture 



Canada 

Research Direction générale 
Branch de la recherche 

Technical Bulletin 1988-8E 




Feeding and care of young 
replacement and veal calves 



AGRICULTURE CANADA 
DE 89/01/27 NO. 

LIBRARY/BIBLIOTHEQUE OTTAWA K1A OC5 




Canada 



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Feeding and care of young 
replacement and veal calves 



K.J. JENKINS 

Animal Research Centre 

Ottawa, Ontario 

Technical Bulletin 1988-8E 

Animal Research Centre Contribution 88-23 



Research Branch 
Agriculture Canada 

1988 



i optes «'! iIhs publication are available from 

Director 

taimal Research Centre 

Research Branch, Agriculture (. anada 

Ottawa, Ontario 

kl \ oc t. 



Produced In Research Program Service 

Minister ol Suppl) and Services Canada 1988 
Cal No.: V54-8 I988-8E 
ISBN: 0-662-16383-4 



Egalement disponible en français sous le titre 

Alimentation et soin des jeunes veaux de remplacement et de boucherie 

cover 
The dots on the map represent Agriculture Canada research establishments. 



(i) 

PREFACE 



Numerous enquiries are received from dairy producers on feeding and 
managing calves and young dairy animals. It has become evident from these 
enquiries that farmers are becoming more concerned with problems related to 
the preruminant calf. This probably arises from two factors: (1) recognition 
that most animal losses occur during the first 6 weeks after the calf is born, 
and (2) the fact that many of the most difficult problems are encountered with 
these young animals. 

This publication has been written to specifically deal with the 
preruminant stage of the dairy animal's life. It complements Agriculture 
Canada bulletin #1432 which provides a general outline of feeding and 
management practices for heifers up to the first lactation. 

Dr. Ken Jenkins, calf specialist at the Animal Research Centre, has been 
actively engaged in calf research for over 15 years. In this bulletin he 
provides information on the questions most frequently posed by dairy 
producers. He has dealt in detail on calving and care of the newborn calf, 
housing and environment, physiology of digestion, diets and feeding 
procedures, weaning methods and outlines various veal production systems. 

It is hoped that this publication will be of significant value to the 
dairy industry in its attempts to reduce calf losses and improve the success 
and profitability of farm operations. 



ffék 



E.E. Lister 
Director 

Animal Research Centre 
Ottawa, Ontario 
June 1988 KlA 0C6 



(ii) 

TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Page 

PREFACE i 

TABLE OF CONTENTS ii 

SUMMARY/RESUME iv 

INTRODUCTION 1 

CARE AND FEEDING OF THE PREGNANT COW 1 

CALVING AND THE NEWBORN CALF 2 

FEEDING THE NEWBORN CALF 3 

MANAGEMENT AND FEEDING SYSTEMS UP TO WEANING 4 

Giving the calves a good start 4 

Housing and environment 4 

Feeding methods 6 

Nurse cow 6 

Teaching the calf to drink 6 

Buckets 6 

Feeding conditions 8 

Calf's digestive functions 8 

Amount of feed given 9 

Various liquid feeds 10 

Whole milk 10 

Sour colostrum 11 

Milk replacer 12 

Dehorning 12 

Removing extra teats 12 

Identification 13 

WEANING 13 

Methods 13 

Starter rations 14 

SOME COMMON DISEASES AND PESTS 15 

Calf scours 15 

Coccidiosis 16 

Pneumon ia 16 

R ingworm 16 

Internal parasites 16 

External pests and parasites 17 

VEAL PRODUCTION 17 

Introduction 17 

Veal from liquid diets 17 

Veal from concentrate feeding (heavy veal) 20 



(iii) 



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 



The author is indebted to Dr. D.M. Veira and Dr. M. Hidiroglou, Animal 
Research Centre, and Dr. L. Drevjany, Mr. B.B. Murray, and Mr. J. Rodenburg, 
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, for their valuable comments and 
suggestions. The photos in figures 3a and 6 were provided by Dr. Drevjany. 



DISCLAIMER 



Mention of a trade name, proprietary product or specific equipment does 
not imply endorsement to the exclusion of other products or equipment which 
may be suitable and available. 



(iv) 

SUMMARY 



Most calf losses can easily be avoided by good feeding and management 
practices. Keeping calves alive and healthy starts with proper nutrition and 
care of the dam and this is particularly important during the last two months 
of gestation when fetal growth is most rapid. 

Management of the calf during the first 24 hours of life influences the 
future health of the calf as much as any other aspect of calf management. 
Important factors include a clean, draft-free environment for calving, prompt 
assistance in delivery if necessary, umbilical disinfection and early 
administration of colostrum. Many subsequent problems can be avoided by 
isolating each calf in dry, clean, draft-free housing where adequate nutrition 
can be ensured and diseases detected and treated early. Both pens and hutches 
can be used successfully. Purchased calves can be raised satisfactorily if 
they have received good postnatal care, but frequently this is difficult to 
determine. 

Whole milk, high quality milk replacer and surplus colostrum are excellent 
feeds. Calves respond well to regularity of feeding - where there is 
uniformity of quality, temperature and quantity of feed. Avoiding 
underfeeding and overfeeding, and ensuring good sanitation and ventilation 
conditions, will go far to minimize scours and pneumonia, the major causes of 
calf losses. 

Most calves can be weaned at 4 to 5 weeks of age by providing a good 
quality calf starter and limiting the amount of the liquid diet. Early 
weaning has the advantages of reducing feed costs and labor, as well as 
avoiding some of the digestive upsets that are more common with liquid diets. 

Surplus male calves can be utilized for two types of veal production - 
white veal, where only liquid diets are fed, and heavy (pink) veal, where 
calves are fed a grain ration from weaning to market weight. Producing prime 
white veal is a costly, sophisticated operation requiring considerable skill 
and experience. 

Many producers have found heavy veal to be a more economic alternative. A 
heavy veal enterprise requires a relatively low initial investment. A good 
feed conversion is readily obtained and favorable prices are usually achieved 
for the finished product. 



(v) 

RÉSUMÉ 



La mortalité chez les veaux peut facilement être évitée grâce à une 
conduite et à une alimentation appropriée. Pour obtenir des veaux en bonne 
santé, il faut avant tout fournir aux vaches en gestation un régime 
alimentaire et des soins appropriés, particulièrement pendant les deux 
derniers mois qui précèdent le vêlage, au cours desquels la croissance du 
foetus est maximale. 

La conduite du veau pendant les 24 premières heures qui suivent le vêlage 
est tout aussi déterminante pour la santé future du nouveau-né que les étapes 
ultérieures d'élevage. Pour le vêlage, il faut installer la vache dans un 
endroit propre et dépourvu de courants d'air et se tenir prêt à intervenir si 
le vêlage est difficile. Après la naissance, désinfecter l'ombilic du 
nouveau-né et voir à ce qu'il consomme du colostrum rapidement. Par la suite, 
une bonne partie des problèmes peuvent être évités en logeant les veaux 
séparément dans un endroit propre et dépourvu de courants d'air qui facilite 
l'alimentation ainsi que la détection et le traitement rapides des maladies. 
Les stalles et les cases amovibles donnent toutes deux de bons résultats. Les 
veaux achetés peuvent être élevés sans problèmes s'ils ont reçu de bons soins 
post-natals, ce qui est souvent difficile à déterminer. 

Le lait entier, les aliments d'allaitement de qualité supérieure et les 
surplus de colostrum constituent tous d'excellents aliments. Les veaux 
réagissent bien à une alimentation régulière, c'est-à-dire uniforme au point 
de vue de la qualité, de la température et de la quantité d'aliments 
distribuée. En évitant la sous- alimentation et la suralimentation, et en 
maintenant de bonnes conditions de salubrité et une ventilation suffisante, on 
peut réduire le plus possible la fréquence de la diarrhée et de la pneumonie, 
qui sont les causes principales de mortalité chez le veau. 

On peut sevrer la plupart des veaux à l'âge de 4 ou 5 semaines en leur 
fournissant des aliments de démarrage de qualité supérieure et en limitant la 
quantité d'aliments lactés. Le sevrage précoce permet de réduire les coûts et 
le travail liés à l'alimentation des animaux, tout en éliminant certains 
troubles digestifs qui apparaissent plus fréquemment avec la consommation 
d'aliments lactés. 

Les veaux mâles excédentaires peuvent être utilisés pour la production de 
deux types de viande, soit le veau blanc, produit à partir d'animaux nourris 
uniquement aux aliments lactés, et le veau lourd (veau rose), produit à partir 
d'animaux nourris au grain du sevrage jusqu'à l'obtention du poids de marché. 
La production de veau blanc de première qualité est coûteuse, complexe, et 
exige une habileté et une expérience considérables. 

Un grand nombre de producteurs se sont tournés vers la production de veau 
lourd, qu'ils jugent plus économique. De fait, la production de veau lourd 
n'exige pas un investissement initial important. En outre, on obtient 
facilement un indice de consommation satisfaisant, et le produit fini peut 
généralement être vendu à un prix intéressant. 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 



http://archive.org/details/feedingcareofyou19888cana 



- 1 - 



INTRODUCTION 



Raising calves is one of the most important, but often neglected aspects 
of dairy operations. Success or failure with replacement heifer calves has a 
profound influence on the herd's future production and profit. Production of 
veal and dairy beef on the farm is also dependent on efficient calf raising 
practices. 

As in all other dairy cattle operations, management plays a key role in 
raising calves. Good management starts before the calf is born, in assuring 
that the cow is fed properly and is in good condition at calving time. Calf 
performance and mortality are markedly affected by early housing and feeding 
practices. Most calves are lost during the first few weeks of life when they 
are most susceptible to stresses and disease. During this time the experience 
and attitude of the person caring for the calves are of paramount importance. 

There are many different management and feeding programs currently being 
used on farms. However, most programs involve feeding the calf milk replacer, 
whey, or a limited amount of whole milk, and then weaning onto dry feeds at 5 
to 8 weeks of age. Feeding fermented colostrum has become popular in some 
areas of Canada. Less widely adopted practices include once-a-day feeding and 
the use of acidified milk replacer. 

This bulletin provides information on management and feeding practices, 
that when used alongside patience and care, will go a long way towards 
successful raising of calves to weaning. A short description also is included 
on utilizing calves for veal production. 

CARE AND FEEDING OF THE PREGNANT COW 



The first essential for rearing a good calf is feeding the cow well during 
her pregnancy, and especially during her dry period. Poor prenatal nutrition 
results in small, weak calves that tend to grow slowly and have higher 
mortality. 

Dairy cows require a rest period from 6 to 8 weeks before refreshening. 
Cows that are very thin may need a slightly increased energy intake. After 
drying-off, the cow should be fed to maintain body weight and mineral 
reserves, and to develop a strong fetus. At the same time overconditioning 
should be avoided. 

A balanced diet should be provided consisting of good quality roughage, 
given free-choice, and a mineral supplement. Vitamin A should be added where 
stored forage is fed. 



- 2 - 







\1 



Figure 1. A vigorous, heaithy calf. 



CALVING AND THE NEWBORN CALF 



Several days before the calf is born the cow should be placed in a clean, 
well-bedded boxstall or paddock near the barn where she can be observed 
frequently. Usually the cow gives birth without problems but farm workers 
should be nearby to help or call for veterinary assistance if required. 
Normal birth of a calf is with the head between the front legs. Another 
normal presentation is the back legs coming first, although this is a more 
difficult birth. A useful thumb rule to follow is to call the veterinarian if 
an adult cow is in labour for 2 to 3 hours, or a heifer for 4 hours, and has 
not produced her calf or made progress in that direction. After freshening, 
the cow should be allowed to lick the calf, given a drink of water, and kept 
warm. Then watch the cow at daily intervals, for several weeks, to detect any 
early symptoms of ketosis, such as poor appetite, sweetish odor of breath and 
milk, and nervous actions. If the afterbirth is not expelled after 2 days, 
call the veterinarian. 



As soon as possible after the calf is born, the navel should be disinfected 
with an iodine solution. An injectable commercial preparation of vitamins A, 



3 - 







Figure 2. Colostrum is the calf's most important meal. 



D, E should be given. A vigorous calf will try to rise within 15 minutes and 
usually will be nursing an hour after birth. Weak calves may be unable to nurse 
by their own efforts and should be assisted in nursing, at least for the first 
few hours. The calf may be left with the cow for 2 or 3 days, and the cow milked 
out, but it is preferable to separate them when the calf is 12 to 18 hours old. 
It is much easier to teach the calf to drink at this age and reduces the chances 
of the calf acquiring an infection. The calf should be placed in a dry, clean 
pen, that is well-lighted, properly ventilated, and free of parasites. 



FEEDING THE NEWBORN CALF 



It is most important that the newborn calf receives colostrum - the first 
milk - from its dam. Under many circumstances colostrum is essential for 
survival of the calf. Colostrum is rich in energy, and is a concentrated source 
of protein, vitamins, and minerals. But more important, colostrum contains 
antibodies for disease resistance. Very little active immunity is transferred 
from the cow to the fetus but a passive immunity is acquired from the dam's 
colostrum. 



- 4 - 



Ideally, the calf should be given one to two liters of colostrum within 
the first 2 hours after birth, when the antibodies are absorbed most 
effectively. The second colostrum feeding should be given within the next 12 
hours to continue antibody protection. This is followed by colostrum feeding 
twice daily, at 3% body weight per meal, until the calf is 3 days old. 
High producing cows produce a surplus of colostrum which can be frozen or 
preserved as sour colostrum for feeding over a longer period, or fed to 
purchased calves after dilution with water (3 parts colostrum 4 1 part water). 

MANAGEMENT AND FEEDING SYSTEMS UP TO WEANING 
Giving the calves a good start 

Good sanitation, environment, and nutrition are the keys to healthy 
calves. They are particularly important for the newborn calf as it is very 
susceptible to digestive problems, infections of the intestinal and 
respiratory tracts, and to environmental stresses. Good overall management at 
the onset of calf rearing can markedly reduce the factors predisposing calves 
to diseases and minimize the need for medication. 

Housing and environment 

After colostrum feeding the calf should be moved to a separate building 
designed for calf rearing. Ideally the calf barn should not have extreme 
fluctuations in temperature. Good ventilation should be provided without 
drafts. It is best if the calf barn is visited by relatively few people to 
minimize introduction of diseases. 

Performance up to weaning is genera] ly better when calves are raised 
individually rather than in groups. The calves can be observed more closely, 
there is less chance of disease spreading, and later on, weaning according to 
starter intake can be practiced. 

Most dairy producers prefer to raise calves in pens with a bedded floor. 
However, elevated pens (60 x 150 cm) also can be used which have the advantage 
that they minimize space requirements and provide ease of feeding and 
cleaning. Elevated pens are frequently made with plywood sides and slatted or 
expanded metal floors. A rubber mat, placed in the front part of pens that 
have metal floors, will help prevent sore and swollen knees. 

There is considerable controversy on the best environmental conditions for 
calves. However, there is agreement on the following. A temperature range 
from 5° to 21°C in winter is satisfactory. Generally it is recommended that 
15°C should be the minimum temperature, in winter for calves on slatted or 
wire floors and 21°C for the first two weeks. A heat lamp can be hung over a 
young calf to increase the temperature in its area. A relative humidity 



- 5 




Figure 3. Elevated individual pens for calves. 



between 50 and 70% appears to be ideal. A low humidity tends to dry 
respiratory tracts and increase susceptibility to infections. At higher 
humidities, increased temperatures are required and drafts should be carefully 
avoided. Good ventilation rates are 0.40 m^/min per calf in winter 
conditions, 0.91 m-Vmin in mild climates, and 3.40 m-Vmin in warm weather. 

During the first 2 to 3 weeks it is advantageous to take the calf's body 
temperature daily. This frequently will provide valuable advance notice on 
any health problems. To avoid the thermometer being dropped when taking the 
temperature, a string can be attached to the thermometer and to a clothespin 
which is clipped on the tail. 



Another way of raising calves is outdoors in individual hutches. Growth 
and health of calves raised in hutches are generally very good even at low 
winter temperatures. In fact hutches will provide a better environment to the 
calf than a makeshift area in the main dairy barn, or an inadequate calf barn, 
where there are drafts, fluctuating temperatures and poor sanitation. 



- 6 - 



Hutches provide economical calf housing and frequently are an effective 
means of reducing calf losses where severe and repeated problems with disease 
have been encountered. Their main problem is the inconvenience of feeding the 
calves outdoors in harsh winter conditions. They can also be hard on the 
calves in areas of the country where there are prolonged winter periods of 
very low temperatures and stormy weather. 

After receiving colostrum for 3 days, the calves can be safely moved into 
hutches where winter temperatures are no more than slightly below freezing. 
Liquid diets should be provided at body temperature and warm water given once 
daily between feedings. Fresh starter ration should be available at all 
times. At weaning, the calves are moved indoors to group pens. 

Care should be taken that the hutches are of adequate size and 
construction. Location of the hutches also is important. It should have a 
well- drained site with the doorway facing south. Experience will indicate the 
best location for avoiding snow-drifting problems. Sufficient space should be 
left between the hutches so that they can be moved to a clean location when 
the next calf is brought in. Straw is good for bedding and provides good 
insulation in cold weather. The hutch should be cleaned out very well after 
use and left empty for a short period before introducing the new calf. 

Feeding methods 

The particular feeding system adopted on any farm should be dictated by 
economic considerations, convenience, and success. Calf feeding methods 
should be compared and the most suitable chosen for the farm conditions. 

Nurs e cow. This is nature's method of rearing calves. It is an easy system 
and one in which few problems are encountered. Nurse cows from the herd are 
used to raise several calves. Starter ration and hay should be provided. 

Teac h ing the calf to drink. There is probably no better method of teaching a 
calf to drink from a bucket than simply putting one's fingers in its mouth, 
bringing head and fingers into the bucket containing the milk, and then 
gradually withdrawing the fingers. Some calves learn to drink with the first 
attempt while others require several attempts. Above all, patience is 
required in repeating the process as needed. 

B uckets. Both open buckets and nipple pails are satisfactory, but open 
buckets are more convenient. The nipple pails are more work to clean, and the 
nipples frequently come off or are chewed away. 

Many successful calf raisers only rinse buckets between calves but they 
are careful to clean them thoroughly after each feeding. To avoid spreading 
disease, poor- performing calves should be fed later, and sick calves fed last 
from their own separate buckets. Mechanical feeders are not generally used 
except for calves in groups, or for veal calves. Drawbacks are the cost of 
equipment, spread of disease, and calves sucking and injuring each other. 



7 - 












Figure 4. Hutches provide inexpensive housing. 




Figure 5. Teaching the 
calf to drink. 



Feeding con ditions. It is important to maintain the same feeding conditions 
from day to day. The calf will drink better and there will be a tendency for 
fewer digestive problems. The diet should be given at about the same time 
each day. It should be warm and about the same temperature each time. Large 
calves should be fed twice- a- day, slow starters three-times-a-day until they 
are drinking well. Some producers in the United States have been successful 
in feeding once-a-day, giving the total daily feed allotment at one feeding. 
This is usually more successful with milk or high quality milk replacer, not 
with lower quality replacers. Calves fed once daily usually can be weaned 
slightly earlier, but incidence of scours is higher. One method of weaning 
frequently used is to feed liquid diet twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks, and then 
once daily for 2 weeks, providing plenty of fresh water and starter ration at 
all times. 



Calf's digestiv e functio ns. If the calf is to be fed properly, it helps to 
understand its digestive functions. The calf at birth has a 4-part stomach, 
as any ruminant, but only the abomasum (fourth part) functions. Liquid diets 
by-pass the first 3 parts of the stomach and go directly to the abomasum via 
the esophageal groove. The groove is formed when the calf sucks liquids. The 
reflex action which forms the groove becomes weaker as the calf grows older. 



- 9 - 



During the first few weeks of life, the nutrients in liquid diets that are 
best utilized are milk proteins, animal fats (and a few vegetable fats), the 
sugars - lactose and glucose, and all the required minerals and vitamins. 
Starches and vegetable proteins are poorly utilized. Milk proteins (caseins) 
have the advantage of forming a clot in the abomasum. As the clot breaks 
down, they are released slowly into the small intestine (along with the fat 
that was trapped in the clot) where they are digested at a slow, efficient 
rate. This process is beneficial as the calf has a shortage of digestive 
enzymes in the small intestine during the first 4 weeks of life. 

Overfeeding the young calf should be avoided. Overfeeding milk or good 
quality milk replacer is usually less serious than too much whey or poor 
quality milk replacer. Whey has no casein protein to clot and therefore much 
of it empties out of the abomasum too quickly. The vegetable proteins in poor 
quality milk replacers don't clot either. They are also relatively 
indigestible. Too much undigested protein in the upper small intestine can 
cause digestive upsets, scours, and antigenic reactions, effects which are 
sometimes seen with whey and poor quality milk replacers. The answer is to 
feed moderate amounts of milk or good quality milk replacer for the first 2 or 
3 weeks when digestive problems are most prevalent. After 3 to 4 weeks, the 
calf can handle larger volumes of liquid feed and more of the poor-quality 
liquid diets. 

When there is a good intake of starter ration, the quality of the replacer 

becomes less important. With solid food consumption, the rumen starts to 

function effectively and the microorganisms change the nutrients into readily 
available forms. 

Amount of feed given. Daily gains of about 0.5 to 0.7 kg from birth to 
weaning are generally considered satisfactory for dairy herd replacements. 
Good quality liquid diet and starter ration fed during this period will easily 
produce this rate of gain. Where early weaning is used, the starter ration 
should be the principal source of nutrients during the last 2 weeks before 
weaning. 

Except for extreme cases of over- and undernutrition, the kind of 
nutritional regime provided during early life of a heifer calf does not appear 
to affect mature performance. There is some evidence, however, that severe 
underfeeding of calves during the first few weeks of life may have a permanent 
adverse effect on subsequent growth. Also extreme overfeeding can cause 
digestive upsets and scours. To avoid these detrimental effects, the calf 
should be fed moderate amounts of high quality ration for the first few weeks. 

The amount of feed required increases with the size of the calf. A 
successful practice has been to feed liquid diet daily at 10% of body weight. 
Somewhat less than this should be fed for the first 4 days postpartum when the 
calf is trying to adopt both to dietary change and to being moved to the 
nursery. Some feeding schemes that have been used successfully for moderate 
gains and for weaning between 4 and 6 weeks, are shown in Table 1. 



10 



TABLE 1. Daily allotment of liquid feed for calves* 



Age 



Whole milk 
(kg/day) 



Milk replacer"*" 
(kg/day) 



4-7 days 
2nd week 
3rd week 
4th week f 
5th week 
6th week 



3.5 
4.0 
4.5 

4. 
4. 
4. 



- 4.0 



0.50 - 0.60 
0.60 - 0.70 
0.65 - 0.75 

0.65 

0.65 

0.65 



*Colostrum is fed for the first 3 days postpartum. The range is for small 

to large calves. 
+Mix 1 part milk replacer powder with 6 parts water (weight basis). 
f To wean calf, offer one- half the daily liquid feed allowance, at one 

feeding, and stop liquid feeding completely when 500g starter ration are 

eaten daily, for 3 consecutive days. 



For farmers that don't weigh newborn calves, a simple method can be used 
effectively to feed calves from 3 days of age to weaning. This consists of 
feeding 2.0 kg of milk or milk replacer twice daily throughout the 6- week 
period in warm weather and 2.5 kg per feeding in a cold environment. 
Additional fresh water is made available from about 3 weeks of age. The 
method has the advantages of simplicity and encouraging early starter ration 
intake as the nutrient requirements of the calf increase. 



Various liquid feeds 

Whole milk . The feeding of whole milk to calves is much more expensive than 
feeding milk replacer regardless of the weaning age. This is true whether one 
is feeding within- or over-quota milk. Where skim milk is available, a more 
economic use of whole milk can be arrived at by feeding whole milk for the 
first 3 weeks and then skim milk to weaning, with weaning brought about 
relatively early. Gradual changeover from milk to skim milk is required. 
Good starter intake is essential when skim milk is fed. As the energy content 
of skim milk is low, it is preferable not to feed skim when the barn 
temperature is cold. 

Where only whole milk is fed, the calf should be fed daily as in Table 1 
with fresh water available at all times. A little good quality hay can be 
provided at 2 to 3 weeks, increasing the amount as appetite for it increases. 



- 11 




Figure 6. Automatic feeding of vealer to calves 



Sour colostrum . Cows produce four to six times the amount of colostrum that 
calves can consume during the 3 days of feeding postpartum. Surplus colostrum 
for feeding later can be frozen or allowed to acidify by fermentation at room 
temperature. Freezing colostrum in bags is a good preservation method but 
requires freezer space and defrosting before feeding. There are many dairy 
producers in Canada feeding sour colostrum to calves. Most have reported 
excellent results and a considerable saving in feed costs. To obtain sour 
colostrum, colostrum from several milkings is combined and stored at room 
temperature. After being allowed to ferment naturally, a product is produced 
that is highly acceptable and nutritious for calves. At high temperatures or 
long storage times, putrefactive fermentation and mold growth may occur. 
There are numerous commercial products that can be added to colostrum to 
promote preservation and control fermentation. 

The procedure for sour colostrum is as follows: The colostrum from the 
dam's first six milkings is stored in a covered container lined with a 
heavy-duty plastic garbage bag. Pooled colostrum from several cows can be 
added to the storage container during a five- or six-day period, with thorough 
stirring twice-a-day. Exposure to direct sunlight should be avoided. The 
mixture is left a few days to sour at room temperature. The best results are 
obtained by feeding the sour colostrum starting 3 days after the last addition 
of colostrum. The sour colostrum can be used for a few weeks. 



Sour colostrum can first be fed as a 1:1 blend with fresh milk immediately 
after the mother's fresh colostrum. The calf readily accommodates this kind 



- 12 



of diet change. After a few feedings, give a mixture of 3 parts of sour 
colostrum and 1 part warm water. This mixture has a solids content similar to 
whole milk and can be fed thereafter at the same rate as whole milk. 

Milk replacer. Commercial milk replacers are available that are similar to 
milk in their ability to produce weight gains in calves. A good quality milk 
replacer is made up mostly of dry milk products, such as skim milk, 
buttermilk, and whey, and small amounts, if any, of plant materials. 
Replacers with a high content of cereal products should be avoided for calves 
up to 2 to 3 weeks of age as they can cause severe digestive problems, scours, 
and poor calf performance. Recent studies have shown that partially 
predigested fish protein and some specially- treated soybean products can be 
well utilized by the young calf. 

The best choice of milk replacers for the newborn calf is always the high 
quality, all- milk product. With calves weaned at 4 to 6 weeks, the cheaper 
milk replacers will not save much money and can actually be very expensive if 
they result in even a few calf losses. 

Most commercial milk replacers contain between 20 and 24% protein and 3 to 
20% fat, and have the necessary vitamins and minerals added. For replacement 
calves, a milk replacer containing about 20% protein and 15 to 20% fat is 
recommended for good gains. 

A schedule for feeding milk replacers is shown in Table 1. Usually 1 part 
of powder is used with 6 parts of water, but the manufacturer's recommendations 
should be followed. 

Dehorning 

Calves should be dehorned when they are 2 to 4 weeks old. Electric 
dehorners are the most popular. The core should be gouged out gently at the 
time the horn rim becomes scorched. Caustic preparations are also used. The 
hair should be clipped around the horn button and vaseline applied on the 
space around the base to prevent damage to adjoining skin areas. 

Removing extra teats 

Extra teats on a heifer's udder are unsightly and often interfere with 
milking. The best time to remove extra teats is between 4 to 6 weeks of age. 

Pull the teat down and cut off with a sharp disinfected pair of scissors 
at the line where the teat joins the udder. Disinfect the cut area with 
iodine. When two teats are joined together, a veterinarian should be called 
to remove one. 



- 13 - 




Figure 7. The product of successful calf- raising. 



Identification 

Calves should be identified as soon as possible after birth using 
permanent kinds of identification, such as ear tags or tattoos. Photographs 
are used for identifying purebred animals. The date of birth, sire, and dam 
should be recorded. Locking ear tags are particularly good, using a numbering 
system suitable for the farm. 



WEANING 



Methods 



The trend in recent years is towards earlier weaning of replacement calves, 
Although many dairy producers still wean at 6 weeks or older, 4 to 5 weeks is 
becoming common. This is because milk or milk replacers are more expensive 
and require more labour to feed them than do dry feeds that replace them after 
weaning. Also, digestive upsets are more common during preweaning than later. 



14 - 



There are many ways to wean calves successfully, but to wean calves early, 
the liquid diet has to be limited at some stage and the calf induced to eat 
the dry feed. The starter ration should be fresh, palatable, and nutritious. 

The most reliable method of weaning calves successfully is to use a 
combination of calf age, weight gains, and starter intake. Many calves can be 
weaned by 3 to 4 weeks of age but to avoid the exceptions, all calves weaned 
should be at least 4 weeks old. Weight gains should be 10 kg or more over 
birth weight. Calves can then be weaned abruptly when at least 500g of 
starter ration are eaten daily, for three consecutive days. This can be 
accomplished by providing good quality starter, fresh daily, starting at 4 to 
5 days and after 21 days limiting liquid feeding to once daily. Stirring some 
starter in the pail near the end of feeding helps the calf become accustomed 
to eating dry feed. After weaning is complete, some producers have found that 
placing some dry milk replacer on the top of the starter ration eases the 
shift from liquid to dry feed. 

Starter rations 

There are many different kinds of good calf starters available on the 
market. Most commercial starters are simple mixtures of grains supplemented 
with protein, minerals, and vitamins. Some contain a complex mixture of 
ingredients including cereal grains, milling by-products, protein feeds from 
both plant and animal origin, minerals, vitamins, and sometimes antibiotics. 
Good calf starters are easily mixed on the farm but when small quantities are 
required, it is usually more convenient to buy a commercial product. They can 
also offer the advantages of variety, freshness, and pelleting. 

Calves prefer starters containing coarse, flaky ingredients. Coarsely 
ground or rolled grains stimulate greater intake of starter at an earlier age 
than finely ground grain, even if the latter is pelleted. With finely ground 
ingredients a higher incidence of digestive disorders occurs. Adding a little 
molasses to the total mix improves palatability , and reduces dustiness. 

As primary energy sources, oats and barley have the highest palatability. 
For protein sources, the calf seems to prefer soybean meal to linseed meal, 
milk powder, fish meal, or meat and bone meals. 

It is generally recommended that the starter should be fed initially at 4 
to 5 days postpartum along with free-choice water, but that hay or other 
roughages not be given for the initial 2 to 3 weeks. After weaning, starter 
ration feeding is usually continued until the calves are consuming about 2 kg 
per day. Calves are then shifted onto a grower ration, limited to about 2 kg 
a day to encourage roughage consumption. 

Several suggested mixtures for calf starters are provided in Table 2. 



15 - 



TABLE 2. Examples of calf starter rations 



Ingredients 



Complete 
starter* 



Barley, rolled or coarsely ground 

Oats, rolled or crushed 

Corn, cracked or coarsely ground 

Corn cobs, ground 

Wheat bran 

Soybean meal (50%) 

Alfalfa meal 

Molasses 

Animal fat, stabilized 

Dicalcium phosphate 

Trace mineral salt 

Vitamin A+ 

Vitamin D+ 



28 
40 



20 
5 
5 

1 

1 



25 
30 

15 
28 



50 
20 



18 
5 
5 

1 
1 



25 
17 
15 

29 

10 
2 

1 
1 



2200 lU/kg in all rations- 
330 lU/kg in all rations- 



*Not fed with separate roughage. 
+For weaning at 6 to 8 weeks of age. 
weeks. 



Increase by 50% for weaning at 3 to 5 



SOME COMMON DISEASES AND PESTS 



Calf scours 



Scours is one of the most common and serious problems in raising calves. 
The causes can be nutritional, bacterial, or viral. The nutritional scour can 
be caused by overfeeding, irregular feeding times, and poor quality diet. 
Bacterial infections can arise from inadequate feeding of colostrum, bringing 
in new animals, raising baby calves with older animals, or using dirty, damp 
housing conditions. Other sources of infection are the human feeder, and 
poorly washed pails. 

To cure mild scours, the liquid diet should be reduced by about one- half 
for two or three meals, with replacement water provided to minimize 
dehydration. If the calf does not respond soon, it should be isolated in a 
warm, comfortable area and treatments continued until it recovers. For more 
severe scours, every second meal should be replaced by an electrolyte 
solution, and the amount of the remaining meal cut in half. A veterinarian 
should be contacted when diarrhea persists, accompanied by high body 
temperature and poor appetite. 



- 16 - 



Coccidiosis 

This is an intestinal disease that may occur in calves from 1 to 9 months 
of age. The symptoms are severe diarrhea containing blood and mucus. Loss of 
blood may cause the calves to become weak and some may die. Diagnosis is made 
on the symptoms, and by finding the infective agent in the manure by 
microscopic methods. Treatment usually involves administration of sulfonamide 
drugs. Prevention is difficult in infected premises but is based on thorough 
cleaning of the pens and avoiding contamination of the feed and water. 

Pneumonia 

Pneumonia is usually caused when calves are exposed to drafts and sudden 
chills or wet bedding. It can spread very quickly to all calves in a herd. 
Poor ventilation is a contributing factor. Pneumonia develops more readily in 
animals weakened by severe scours. 

The symptoms of pneumonia are dullness, coughing, loss of appetite, and 
fever. Breathing soon becomes laboured and coughing more marked. Some calves 
have a thick discharge from the nostrils. It is important to call a 
veterinarian as soon as the symptoms of pneumonia are seen. Sulfa drugs or 
antibiotics are usually used to treat the disease. 

Ringworm 

Ringworm is a fungus growth causing a skin disease characterized by loss 
of hair in circular lesions which become encrusted with a black scab. 

In treating ringworm, the scabs should be loosened by scrubbing with a 
stiff brush and warm soapy water. A medication containing iodine in some form 
is then rubbed in. The pen areas should be cleaned thoroughly and 
disinfected. Effective control of ringworm involves early detection and 
prompt treatment. 

Internal parasites 

Problems from internal parasites are rare in preruminant calves, 
especially when they are housed in individual pens. They can occur when 
calves are raised together in crowded quarters or when housed in areas 
recently occupied by older animals. 

Roundworms can infect the stomach and intestinal tract of calves when 
larvae are ingested. The animals usually grow slower and develop anemia. 

The presence of lungworms in the trachea and lungs is characterized by 
laboured breathing, coughing, poor appetite, and occasional diarrhea. It 



17 



usually is contracted when young calves are raised on pasture, or in pens, 
infected by older animals. 

Problems with internal parasites are usually complex and if they are 
suspected to be present, the veterinarian should be called. 

External pests and parasites 

The common external pests and parasites affecting dairy cattle in Canada 
are lice, mange lice, warble flies and their grubs, and the various stable, 
barn, and face flies. The common flies breed in moist manure and waste feed. 
Prevention is by regular removal of these materials and by thorough cleaning 
of pens and floors. Lice infections are particularly prevalent in the winter. 

Specific information on controlling external parasites can be obtained 
from local livestock specialists and veterinarians. 

VEAL PRODUCTION 
Introduction 

Essentially there are three types of veal. They are derived either from 
milk- fed calves (white veal), baby "bob" calves, which are slaughtered 
immediately after birth, or the beef- type, or heavy veal calves. The calves 
are fed differently for each specific veal market. 

The production costs entailed in raising prime white veal are high because 
of the sophisticated systems necessary for strict climate control and the 
expensive automatic feeding machines. In contrast, raising bob calves is 
relatively inexpensive, but they provide a poor meat- to- bone ratio to the 
packer and therefore represent poor utilization of livestock. Grain- fed 
calves appear to be a more viable option for making a high quality veal 
available to consumers at a reasonable price. 

Raising calves for any type of veal is a highly specialized business. 
Regardless of the veal production system undertaken, it is wise to start small 
and expand only after finding an operation that has been consistently 
successful over several years. 

Veal from liquid diets 

The production of milk-fed veal involves many interrelated factors that 
affect both animal performance and overall profitability of the enterprise. 
Economic factors involve the original price of the calf, the value of the feed 
and veal produced, availability and efficiency of labour, and capital costs 



- 18 - 



for buildings and feeding devices. The feeding and management of white veal 
calves is a blend of art and science. 

Top price white veal demands a well-fleshed calf of a "blocky" 
conformation, covered lightly with fat. A well-finished calf will have a 
small amount of fat at the base of the tailhead, a fat covering over the 
kidney, and show feathering between the ribs. The meat must be white to 
demand the top price, which means it must be produced with liquid diets having 
a very low iron content. The market weight for white veal calves ranges from 
150 to 160 kg. 

Calves raised as white veal are fed only liquid diet and at a rate which 
promotes maximum gains to slaughter weight. There are excellent commercial 
milk replacers (vealers) for raising veal calves. Under good feeding and 
management conditions they will produce gains of 1 kg/day or more, with a feed 
conversion of 1.4 to 1.5 kg dry matter intake/kg weight gain. Gains of 1.4 
kg/day are common at the end of the feeding period. Limited amount of feed is 
usually given for the first 7 to 14 days and then full-feed to the end of the 
feeding period. The commercial vealers have a high content of skim milk 
powder, and variable amounts of whey, casein, or other dairy products, animal 
fats or animal/vegetable fat blends, sugars, vitamins and minerals. 
Generally, they contain 15 to 25% homogenized fat and 20 to 24% protein, with 
the higher fat and lower protein contents used in finishing diets. The cost 
of vealer increases with the higher fat content. 

The Holstein male calf is one of the best performers in veal production 
systems. A vigorous, healthy, blocky calf, weighing between 40 and 50 kg is 
ideal. Preferably, calves should be purchased from farms where it is known 
that colostrum has been fed. However, most larger veal producers must rely on 
auctions for an adequate supply of calves in a short time. Such a widely 
variable source of calves can introduce serious disease problems into farm 
premises. Veal producers should contact their veterinarian and feed company 
for help in planning a program that will control disease. At least, all 
animals purchased should be bright-eyed, appear healthy and in good overall 
condition. Calves should be bought in single groups to fill the barn so that 
the premises can be cleaned thoroughly and rested between production cycles. 

Because the veal calf is being fed to perform maximally, good housing and 
animal comfort are important. The barn will need to have adequate heating and 
ventilation systems. At the start, the temperature should be approximately 
20°C. The temperature can be lowered gradually to 15°C through the feeding 
period. Relative humidity is best at 50 to 70%, with good ventilation and no 
drafts. Slatted, elevated individual stalls work well allowing for ease of 
feeding, cleaning, and calf comfort. Calves also have been housed 
successfully in group pens. 

There is probably no aspect of veal management that is subject to greater 
variation than the recommendations regarding feeding. There is general 
agreement, however, that the primary objective is to get the calves past the 



19 - 



first 2 to 3 weeks and then feed them as much as they will accept satisfactorily. 
Many producers practice very limited feeding for the first week or two to get 
past this critical period. Although most newborn calves can perform well when 
fed relatively high intakes of good quality diet, some cannot. To avoid 
expensive animal losses, the baby calves should be neither starved nor overfed. 
Moderate feeding rates should be used for the first week or two. 

The amount of milk replacer fed in a vealer operation is based on the 
weight of the animal, its appetite, desired rate of gain, and final weight at 
slaughter. Both the total solids and amount of feed are increased gradually 
throughout the feeding period. A general feeding guide is shown in Table 3. 
It is important to feed the two daily meals at the same times each day and at 
about the same temperature. Success in the white veal business is impossible 
without superb sanitary conditions. 

There are numerous feeding devices that have been designed to reduce the 
labour involved in feeding liquid diets to a large number of calves. They 
vary from simple machines developed on the farm to elaborate commercial 
devices. With some units the amount of liquid fed to each calf is controlled 
by the number of times the feeder operates each day, and by the individual 
amount of diet offered. Some automatically spray the nipple with disinfectant 
between each calf fed. 



TABLE 3. Vealer feeding guide (feed twice daily) 



Age of calf 


Vealer 


Water 


Total solids 




(kg/feeding) 


(kg/feeding) 


(%) 


4 - 7 days 


0.15 


1.1 


12.0 


8-10 days 


0.18 


1.3 


12.2 


11 - 12 days 


0.22 


1.6 


12.1 


13 - 14 days 


0.25 


1.8 


12.2 


15 - 16 days 


0.27 


1.9 


12.4 


17 - 18 days 


0.30 


2.1 


12.5 


19 - 20 days 


0.35 


2.4 


12.7 


4th week 


0.40 


2.6 


13.3 


5th week 


0.50 


3.0 


14.3 


6th week 


0.65 


3.8 


14.6 


7th week 


0.85 


4.8 


15.0 


8th week 


0.95 


5.3 


15.2 


9th week 


1.10 


6.0 


15.5 


10th week 


1.20 


6.2 


16.2 


11 - 15th weeks 


1.30 


6.4 


16.9 



- 20 - 



A pipeline system for feeding cold vealer to calves has been used 
extensively in Britain. The milk replacer used is composed of ingredients 
that do not clot and the reconstituted product acidified to retard spoiling. 
The liquid diet is circulated through pipelines from a refrigerated storage 
tank with the calves having access to the diet at all times. The animals 
drink little and often, with intake restricted by the acidity and low 
temperature. The advantages of the pipeline system are that the animals feed 
themselves, no warming of diet is required, and diet can be made up in bulk 
three or four days in advance of feeding. However, the system has been found 
to have some severe drawbacks. Milk replacers can spoil despite high 
acidity. Individual control of intake is difficult, if not impossible, when 
scouring develops and cross infection of calves can occur readily. Problems 
arise with settling and blockages in the pipelines. Because of the 
disadvantages encountered with pipeline- feeding, many producers in Britain 
have returned to the alternate feeding systems for veal. 

The choice of system for feeding vealer to calves is a matter of personal 
preference, cost of feeding devices, availability of labour and economics. 
Regardless of the feeding method used, a successful white veal operation will 
require close, individual attention to each calf, and constant adherence to 
good management practices. 

Veal from concentrate feeding (heavy veal) 

Over the past 10 years per capita consumption of white veal has declined 
steadily. The reasons for the decline have been the high price of veal and 
its substitution by other more reasonably priced high quality products from 
poultry and pork. Currently, many producers are convinced that grain- fed veal 
is the best economic alternative to all other types of veal and have started 
up heavy veal operations. With grain- fed calves it is not difficult to 
consistently produce a high quality product that is affordable to the average 
consumer. 

If the heavy veal program is started with newborn calves, their housing, 
feeding, and general management are the same as for replacement calves. Milk 
replacer is fed from 4 to 5 weeks of age with early weaning promoted to lower 
feed costs. Using newborn calves in the heavy veal program can be more 
profitable than starting with weaned calves, but more management skills are 
required with the newborns. 

One of the many feeding schemes that are used for heavy veal production is 
as follows. After weaning, the calves are offered starter and water 
free-choice for 2 weeks. They will be 7 to 8 weeks old and weigh 
approximately 70 kg at that time. For the 9th week a ration is fed, 
free-choice, consisting of 6 parts of calf starter and 4 parts of a 3:1 blend 
of corn and pelleted protein supplement. The supplement should contain about 
35% protein and adequate minerals and vitamins. During the 10th and 11th 
weeks, the proportion of starter in the ration is reduced to 30% and 10%, 



- 21 - 



respectively. For the 12th week, the calf is fed a 3:1 mixture of whole corn 
to supplement, and when 120 kg live weight is attained the mixture is changed 
to 4 parts whole corn with 1 part supplement. At 180 kg the calves are 
switched to a 5:1, corn to supplement mixture and this ration is fed until a 
market weight of approximately 225 kg is attained. Alternatively, some 
producers use a simpler procedure, feeding the 3:1 mixture of grain to 
supplement between the 9th and 14th weeks, followed by a 4:1 mixture to 
finishing. 

With male Holstein calves, initially weighing 45 to 50 kg, average gains 
are 1 kg daily, or better, and feed conversions between 3.5 and 4.0 (kg feed 
for 1 kg gain) . 



In heavy veal production, proper barn ventilation is a very important 
factor in avoiding respiratory problems. Scours can be troublesome in the 
younger animals but can be well controlled by good sanitation and feeding 
management . 



IIBRARY Rim -.Min Jin 



AGRICULTURE CANADA OTTAWA n: 

3 C I073 OOObESOZ S